Dr M: I Don’t Know What the Government is Doing

(Malaysian Digest) – Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today expressed that he is not sure what the government is doing in the way it is handling the ‘Allah’ usage predicament.

He was responding to a question during a press conference from a reporter who asked him to comment on Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Aziz’s recent comment that non-Muslims in Sabah, Sarawak, Penang and the Federal Territories should be allowed to use the word ‘Allah’.

“He (Nazri) must have anticipated the government’s decision (to allow the use of ‘Allah’ at the four states). I don’t know what the government is doing. I’m not in the government anymore,” he said in a press conference during the signing ceremony between Petronas Lubricants International and Proton Berhad at the KLCC Twin Towers.

Nazri commented last week that non-Muslims in Sabah and Sarawak should be allowed to use the word ‘Allah’, and yesterday he said that those in Penang and the Federal Territories could also use the word as there is no state enactment to prohibit its usage. He told this to reporters after launching the public transport consumer rights awareness campaign yesterday.

Nazri, who is the de facto law minister, added that the Constitution clearly says no religion, except for Islam, can be propagated among the Muslims.

Malaysian Digest today obtained a copy of a Government Gazette (Warta Kerajaan) which verified that the Government had initially approved for the Christians to use the world “Allah” as long as the publications are directed towards the followers.

The Gazette which was published in February last year indicated that the document was gazetted under the Internal Security Act by then Home Minister Dato’Seri Syed Hamid Albar.

It is stated in Article 2(1) that “The printing, publication, sale, issue, circulation and possession of any document and publication relating to Christianity containing the words “Allah”, “Kaabah”, “Baitullah” and “Solah” are prohibited unless on the front cover of the document and publication are written with the words “FOR CHRISTIANITY”.

It also makes reference to an earlier document gazetted on March 22, 1982 by then Deputy Home Minister Abdul Rahim Tamby Chik stating in Article 2 that “ The printing, publication, sale, issue, circulation or possession of the publication which is described in the Schedule and which is prejudicial to the national interest and security of the Federation is prohibited, subject to the condition that this prohibition shall not apply to the possession or use in Churches of such publication by persons professing the Christian religion, throughout Malaysia.”

Malaysian Digest was informed that the Gazette was revoked in October 2009, two months before the High Court granted the usage of the word ‘Allah’ to Catholic daily “Herald”.